Kerala

Physics dept. to preserve Thanu Padmanabhan’s first scientific paper

When Thanu Padmanabhan, theoretical physicist and cosmologist who made significant contributions to expanding knowledge of the universe, passed away last week, several people recalled that he had published his first technical paper at a young age.

Now, the Department of Physics at University College has managed to dig up that paper written more than four decades ago.

The department, where a young Padmanabhan pursued his BSc and MSc degrees with great success in the 1970s, was planning to keep the paper framed, Madhu G., current Head of the Department, said. “That was his first paper. We are also planning to build a collection of the scientific papers written by him over the years,” Prof. Madhu said.

It was as a 20-year-old BSc student of the department that the young Padmanabhan had written his paper titled ‘Solutions of scalar and electromagnetic wave equations in the metric of gravitational and electromagnetic waves’. It was published in the 1977 edition of Pramana, a journal brought out by the Indian Academy of Sciences.

A native of Karamana here, the youngster had topped the BSc and MSc programmes in Physics at the college, taking home gold medals. He then pursued his PhD at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). At the time of his death, he was Distinguished Professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune.

In the introduction to his paper, the young Padmanabhan wrote: “In this paper, the scalar and the electromagnetic wave equations, in a space-time curved by the presence of a gravitational or an electromagnetic wave, are solved. From the solution, one can discuss possible interactions between them.”

During his days at the University College, Padmanabhan was part of a science group that strove to promote the scientific temper, remember former classmates.

“They would hold classes in schools and colleges, organise exhibitions,” recalled David George, a former classmate who later went on to teach at the Department of Physics. “He was friendly with everyone. He may no longer be with us physically, but he will continue to live on in our hearts and will be with us in our scientific achievements,” K. Krishnakumar, another of his MSc classmates, said.


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Printable version | Oct 29, 2021 3:27:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/physics-dept-to-preserve-thanu-padmanabhans-first-scientific-paper/article36611475.ece

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